State News

General: Bragg's wounded warrior battalion can improve

Posted April 17, 2012 4:01 a.m. EDT
Updated April 17, 2012 7:01 p.m. EDT

— A review of the Warrior Transition Battalion at Fort Bragg found room for improvement but determined that some complaints by soldiers and spouses were unfounded, officials said Tuesday.

Lt. Gen. Frank G. Helmick, Fort Bragg's commander, ordered the inspection two months ago after an advocacy group for military families told him that some soldiers in the battalion believed they were being over-medicated, poorly treated and unfairly discharged.

The Warrior Transition Battalion helps soldiers, many of whom were wounded in combat, navigate the medical system and monitor their progress and treatment. It was created in 2007 in response to the scandal over shoddy conditions at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C.

More than 500 wounded warriors are assigned to Fort Bragg's unit, which is among more than 30 across the Army.

“Any time the care of our soldiers is questioned, we, as leaders, look into the situation to determine if they are receiving the absolute best medical care, which they richly deserve,” Brig. Gen. Michael Garrett, Fort Bragg's chief of staff, said Tuesday. "We've confirmed that we're doing something right. We're doing a lot of things right. We're providing the best care we possibly can."

Garrett said the inspection found no evidence that any soldiers were improperly medicated. He urged families with other complaints to give the Army time to address them.

"I believe that the chain of command is always the best entry point for any grievance you have, and so, I would recommend to all of those families to give your chain of command at least the opportunity to work the issues for you," he said.

One battalion soldier, who didn't want to be identified, said he was accused of malingering, adding that he believes the Army is trying to get rid of injured soldiers without having to pay them benefits.

"They’re not really willing to help like they say they are,” he said.

The inspection called for the battalion's staff to undergo more training to emphasize compassion and empathy. Other changes include opening up leadership roles to anyone in the Army – they have been limited to Fort Bragg personnel – and requiring all battalion members to attend town hall meetings.

Garrett also said the battalion would improve "expectation management," so that soldiers fully understand their level of injury and their recovery process.

"We're not going to throw our hands up," he said. "We're going to continue to work our processes, continue to look at ourselves and continue to improve."